Science fiction has long promised an age of interplanetary human existence. Scenes of spaceships hopping from one galaxy to the next are so common, it seems almost inevitable that future generations will one day vacation on Mars. But, if we are ever going to achieve life on other planets, we first have to figure out if the human body can tolerate it.
Some of the best data we have on the subject comes from American astronaut Scott Kelly. Kelly spent a year living on the International Space Station while his twin brother Mark, also an astronaut, was on Earth. Scientists from all over the country studied the impact life in space had on Scott Kelly, and compared changes in his body to his brother.
One of those scientists was UC San Diego Professor of Medicine, Michael G. Ziegler, MD. In a recent talk at UC San Diego Extension’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Ziegler detailed some of the more interesting findings from the study. Scott Kelly lost weight. There were significant changes to his gene expression. He lost collagen. His carotid artery thickened. His bones became less dense. His eye shape changed, forcing him to wear glasses. While he was in space, his performance on cognitive tests improved. But, his performance plummeted after returning to Earth, and never quite returned to pre-launch levels.
Despite all of this, Ziegler has reason to be hopeful about long-term space travel. He says the year in space study illuminated many of the challenges, and gave researchers some ideas of how to overcome them. Still, it’s probably a little early to start planning your trip to the red planet.
Watch — How a Year in Space Affects the Human Body with Dr. Michael G. Ziegler — Osher UC San Diego
Our planet is experiencing worldwide growth in energy consumption and CO2 emission and is experiencing temperature rise and climate change at an accelerating rate. A new series from the Institute of Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara describes a path to reducing our energy consumption and CO2 emission.
The series kicks off with John Bowers, Director of the Institute of Energy Efficiency and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials, discussing the evolution of photonics and what the future holds for more efficient, higher capacity data centers, which are important for machine learning and data processing.
Fiber optics has transformed our work and, indeed, our lives, by enabling the Internet through low-cost, high-capacity fiber optic transmission. In data centers, fiber optics is replacing electrical cables, thereby allowing for higher and more economical performance.
Watch — A New Focus for Energy Efficiency
The vastness of the ocean is only surpassed by the biodiversity within it; from familiar and unfamiliar mega-fauna, to every microbe and virus inhabiting every corner of the seas – from the deep freeze of the Antarctic to the scorching plumes of volcanic seafloor vents.
Paul Jensen describes how he and other researchers are tapping into the biodiversity of the world’s oceans as a relatively new resource for natural product drug discovery. Jensen is at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.
Watch — Marine Natural Products: From Sea to Pharmacy
Svante Pääbo once said, “We are all Africans, either living in Africa or in recent exile from Africa.”
It is now abundantly clear that Africa was the “cradle of humanity,” with multiple waves of hominins arising on that continent and spreading across the old world, eventually being effectively displaced by our own species, which also arose in Africa.
Given these facts, it is not surprising that the strong emphasis of anthropogeny is on the continent of Africa with wide-ranging studies including genetic, paleontological, archeological, primatological, climatological, sociocultural and more.
This CARTA symposium focuses on the contributions of scientists and scholars of anthropogeny who live and work in Africa.
Browse more programs in Anthropogeny: The Perspective from Africa.
The Arctic is changing rapidly in response to global climate and economic activity and yet much of it remains unexplored with modern scientific techniques.
Jeff Bowman is a biological oceanographer who studies marine microbial communities. In this presentation at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography he describes his group’s work in the Arctic as they seek to understand the ecological implications of changing sea ice conditions.
They are also preparing to participate in the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) Expedition, an unprecedented multi-national effort to study the high Arctic across a complete seasonal cycle.
Watch — Modern Oceanography and the Changing Arctic Ocean.